Dirk Muller, a member of staff at the TIA Adaptronics Advanced Manufacturing Technology Laboratory, has designed and manufactured a prototype for a coastal data-collecting buoy, which can be used to provide real-time information on the condition of the oceans for industries and governments.
The device could be used to help monitor illegal fishing activity, help predict severe weather conditions and send alerts when a toxic “red tide” (which kills some marine life) is on its way in.
Muller noticed that the current buoys in use have to be collected to be serviced, and that data is lost during these periods. His prototype is modular, making it much more simple to perform maintenance.
The design cuts cost and ensures very little data is lost. The design is also stable in the water and has solar power panels to power the device and enable it to send live information back to shore.
The majority of commercial and scientific data-gathering buoys are manufactured abroad and imported into South Africa at high cost. Muller’s buoy is the first local alternative.
Muller’s buoy has been tested in False Bay, Cape Town and there are plans to manufacture it commercially in 2016 first in South Africa and then for the coastal data collection in other African countries.